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Prairie Purview

An Obsession with Cows

Posted by on Apr 5, 2019

“Have you checked the cows today?” After moving eight miles from town and down the road from my in-laws, I wondered at my father-in-law’s compulsion to drive through his cattle every single day, sometimes twice. My husband did the same. We drove through the steers he fed out on leased grass most every day until the fall when they were taken to the sale barn.   Watching the herd graze under an endless blue sky from our new front porch was enjoyable, but nothing special. It’s not like you could actually pet a cow or form a bond like you can with a dog or cat. On occasion, my father-in-law included my sons in his craziness by stopping on his four-wheeler and taking them along. They eagerly watched for him at the end of the drive, absolute joy sparkling in their eyes as they waved to me from the seat beside him. One morning I observed the task of ‘checking the cows’ in a whole new light. My mother-in-law was admitted for a heart procedure. While my husband joined his family at the hospital, the checking of the cattle fell to me and our oldest son. It was early spring and our instructions were simple; count the pairs of momma cows and calves, making...

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Cowboy Gear: Ropes

Posted by on Mar 2, 2019

Slang terms for Cowboy Ropes included Line, string, ketch-rope, clothes line, throw rope, saddle rope, grass rope, twine, whale line, hard twist, hair rope, or pepper-and-salt rope.   Whatever you call it, they say that a range cowboy did everything with his rope but eat.   Vaqueros in early New Spain (Spanish empire established in North America) made their ropes from braided strips of untanned hide. The ropes were thick and stretched up to 20 yards in length.  Other early materials included silk manila, a hard-twist rope, inexpensive to make and good for all-around roping uses. There are also maguey ropes, made from the fibers of the maguey plant, from which the popular drink mescal is also produced. There were ropes made from linen or braided cotton. Mane-hair ropes were called cabresto. Lariat is the Americanized version of la reata, Spanish for “the rope.” Lasso, first coming from Portuguese origins laco, meaning to snare. Whatever the materials, the Mexican vequero impressed the early cowhands with his proficiency and skill.     Dally, from the Spanish word dar la vuelta, means to wrap around an object, literally “giving her a turn.” In this case the rope is dallied around the saddle horn. The give in a dallied rope eliminates the stress of a sudden stop on...

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Collecting Recipes

Posted by on Feb 22, 2019

Cookbooks take up three shelves above the desk in our kitchen, some old, some inherited and some new. My favorites are those old, used and sometimes stained binders filled with family favorites  put together by church ladies or quilting clubs. I find them in used book stores and sometimes in unexpected places, hidden behind cast-off treasures in antique stores. I have to confess that I enjoy reading the cookbook more than I enjoy the actual task of cooking. It...

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Cowboy Gear: Saddles

Posted by on Feb 1, 2019

“The West was won and conquered by the men who sit in saddle leather.” Saddle, a cowboy’s workbench and his throne. In the West, known as cow saddles, range saddles, stock saddles. In the East as Mexican saddles, Western saddles or cowboy saddles. Western cowboys were not impressed with the small, pad-saddles of the Eastern rider and referred to them as hog skins, kidney pads, pimples, or postage stamps. Made for riding, not for working stubborn Longhorns, most came...

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